Retail and the 5 Senses, Part 1: Sight

The best experiences in life are sensory. A hot chocolate on a cold day, a barefoot walk on a sandy beach, the clean smell after it rains... all of them are playing to the five senses. So why shouldn’t the brick-and-mortar retail shopping experience?

When you account for all five senses, you’ll start to notice it exposes things in your business you may not have easily noticed before. Making sure all five of your customers’ senses are catered to will make shopping in your store more pleasant. People will be more inclined to come by and look around, even if they’re not quite sure why.

In this special series, we’re going to take a look at a few strategies to engage all five of your customers’ senses. Let’s start with the big one:


This is by far the most important of the five senses, how your store looks will communicate a lot. People are very visual by nature and it’s the quickest way to make a judgement about whether or not we like something. Let’s examine a few of the most important ways looks matter.

1. Take a look at your exterior first. If the outside is not welcoming, that doesn’t bode well for the inside. A few dollars spent on a welcome mat, some potted plants, and a welcoming OPEN sign go a long way towards enticing folks inside, but when it comes to exteriors, basic maintenance is key. Replacing burned out bulbs, taking down old signage, and applying a regular coat of paint will give your business a lively look.


2. The look of your store will also be prominent in online review sites so all your potential customers will likely only have sight to go by. As we mentioned in this post, the photos of your store that are posted online will count for a lot when it comes to attracting new customers. You don’t have control over which pictures are posted, but you do have control over the store they’re photographing.


3. Cleanliness is a virtue. Make sure floors, shelves and especially the inventory are all clean. Mopping, sweeping, and dusting should all be done regularly, with the occasional deep-clean on a regular schedule every few months. Cleaning materials should also be put away when not being used.


4. Your employees are also a factor here. Sloppy dress codes and unkempt employees often don’t inspire confidence, especially in upscale settings. Professional dress and grooming will put your customers at ease around the front-of-house members of your team.

Personal effects should also be out of the line of customer sight. This includes jackets, purses, etc. Also, food and drinks should ideally be consumed outside of customer view if possible. One man’s delicious blackened tilapia is another man’s nauseating fish stench.


5. Finally, the way your inventory is shelved, lit, and displayed will make a difference. A dusty product on a dusty shelf just tells the customer “no one’s bought me so far, why would you?”. A dim corner of the store says “don’t come over here”. A randomly organized, haphazard shelf says, “these products aren’t really high-quality enough to distinguish one from the other”. An empty shelf is just a waste of space and lease money.

Inventory is what pays the bills. It’s what the customers are there to see! Make sure it’s abundant, well-organized, and brightly lit. The more light you can get bouncing off it, the more enticing it will appear to your customers.

Humans like consistency overall. Whether products are organized by color, brand, price, size, or any other strategy, having a consistent feel will give your customers a visual treat as they browse.

It’s also good to make your merchandising strategies official and write them down so all employees know how products are displayed. For example “perfumes are organized left-to-right by price, most expensive first” or “chips are displayed by color, red, blue, green, yellow, all other colors”. The more organized and consistent, the better.



The look of your business will often be the only thing your potential customers have to go on. A store that looks dilapidated will convey a sense of “cheapness”, even if your inventory is top-of-the-line.

Be sure to keep on top of this with regular maintenance and official policies designed to keep your store and the inventory it holds looking its best. This isn’t just for the sake of principle either. A nicer-looking store can often charge higher prices for the same products. It also attracts customers who are more willing to pay those prices in order to have that retail experience.

Since avoiding empty shelves is one of the keys to a successful store presentation, make sure you are tracking and ordering your inventory properly with an inventory optimization service like Shopventory.

Right now, Shopventory offers plans for as low as 79¢ per day, with e-commerce hybrid options including Shopify or WooCommerce starting at under $1.69 per day. Right now, you can sign up for a no-risk 30-day full-featured free trial of Shopventory with no credit card required. We also back Shopventory with a 30-day money back guarantee. That means a total of 60 days risk-free!

We’ll cover the other 4 senses in future posts, so stay tuned!

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